Heavy Fire: Shattered Spear Review

Heavy Fire Shattered Spear is a 2013 release by Teyon, and is the latest in a series of shooter games that includes other titles Heavy Fire: Afghanistan, and Heavy Fire: Special Ops. As a US soldier, you are given the task of rescuing a spy with important intelligence about an impending nuclear strike who has been captured by terrorists in Iran. After he’s rescued, well, it’s mainly about shooting baddies.

Shattered Spear reminded me vaguely of the arcade shooters I played as a kid in piers and fairs, down to the cracked glass detail when you take a shot. However what I remember as an exciting and quite reflexive way to do combat with a plastic point-and-shoot gun is not so much with an analog stick on the left side of the PS3 controller. Using the left analog to drift the aim across the screen like a drunk ghost with a ouiji board is I assume, a remnant of the franchise’s origins on the Wii format.

Luckily your character is more bullet resistant than the terrorists you fight, who typically die after one hit. The right analog stick is used to duck behind cover, which allows you to avoid bullets with varying degrees of success. After a while I got used to this way of shooting, which if bemusing isn’t impossible, and without this additional challenge of trying to line up a shot, the already modest game time of a couple of hours would have been greatly reduced.

The story is set out in highly skippable, badly voiced flashes of monologue at the beginning of missions. The backgrounds and settings are well done, but it’s one of those games you can easily play with the TV muted. Lacking cinematics of dialogue, or characters doing character-y things, the gameplay is very fast paced, with a rhythm of shoot and repeat. As an on-rails shooter as soon as one set of enemies is cleared, you’re automatically moved along to the next lot.

Depending on how much independence you like in your shooters, this can be a bit annoying – there is no way to ‘go back’ and shoot the health boxes or bullet upgrades if you miss them, or even to choose when you move along. It lacks even that most basic player-input on strategy. On the other hand, it keeps you on your toes, and checkpoints are placed regularly so usually you can literally get another shot at them. I don’t automatically dislike on-rail shooters. There aren’t many around anymore – perhaps for well-argued reasons, yet old-school gamers will still fondly remember games like Time Crisis, and might even experience a twinge of nostalgia.

It’s a typical soldier game – not one I hated or thought bad, but not one I’d pick up and choose to play again either. Or recommend to games dipping their toes in the genre. It does have the option of local co-op play, which has players sharing a screen and working through levels as a team.

In my opinion, co-op options make all games better, and this example was no exception. However there’s nothing that stands out about Shattered Spear, or was particularly memorable – besides the amusingly-unconformist shooting system, but established fans of shooters can be entertained for a couple of hours.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@brashgames.co.uk.

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